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PUBLIC DANGER DISCOUNTED IN LEGION ARMS THEFT

It reads far more like a requisition form for a combat-bound military outfit than a list of stolen property.

Machine guns, bayonets and bombs are included on the three-page list of items stolen Aug. 3 during a burglary at American Legion Troop I, 432 Franklin St.

The ordnance taken represents the Legion's entire collection of nearly three dozen military relics dating from the Civil War or earlier, showpieces at the troop's headquarters of 59 years.

By the time the thieves were done, all that remained were broken glass display cases and the tags that marked the antiques, according to Sig Halas, chairman of the Legion troop's board of governors.

"We just don't have anything to show anymore," Halas said.

The last time the artifacts were seen in the building was Aug. 1, when the troop's bartender closed up and armed the security system after an afternoon wedding party.

By Aug. 3, there was nothing left but a wide-open front window.

Although the munitions were "in very good condition and in working order" -- as post personnel advised police -- police officials dispelled rumors that they are as dangerous as they sound.

"As far as I know, it was all disabled, disarmed and everything else. It's against federal law to have anything like that that's automatic," said Police Capt. Donald Fry of the Burglary Task Force.

"Unless someone drops them off a bridge onto a passing car (there is not much of a danger). . . . There's no live ammo and no live explosives."

Buffalo police and officials from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are continuing an investigation of the theft. Police said they have some suspects.

Legionnaires said it is not the monetary loss that has them upset -- although the value of the artifacts was estimated at $20,000 or more. "We're not crying about it, but some of these things were irreplaceable -- souvenirs they brought back from the war," said the troop's commander, Walter Orr. "There was a rifle handmade in 1865 that was one of six ever made."

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